We’re almost there, although we still don’t know where “there” is yet. It’s been whittled down to heaven or hell, with nothing in between.
It looks all over in Europe, though. There’s a mental scrapbook of past experiences filed away that may half-convince some to fantasise, but realism will strike tomorrow whether you want it to or not.
Although it was the same result United ‘achieved’, it felt different somehow. That may contain an unhealthy dollop of self-kidology, but before Messi got involved, it felt like a fair fight.
That’s the point, though. Their 10 others give everyone else’s 11 a run for their money before he just dinks up to make the final difference. Again.
When we first faced him, he was on his last growth spurt. The luck of various draws and a post-Benitez pre-Klopp Champions League drought meant we’d not had the pleasure of his company since. We weren’t complaining.
There was some crap about the Suarez celebration, via refugees from la-la-land it sounds like. Luis Suarez isn’t your mate. He doesn’t have mates.
Mourinho chimed in with something about him being desperate to beat people he’d have to phone afterwards. I’d be surprised if Hannibal has Jordan Henderson on speed dial.
Barcelona’s talent was almost matched by Liverpool’s naivety. All the old streetwise chicanery we’re supposed to have wised up to over 55 years in Europe won out again. It’s like Sergio Ramos never existed.
Firmino’s injury has come at the worst possible time, but there were still enough chances to have made this a closer affair.
We’ll have a good old yowl at them tomorrow — emerging with some pride seems the pinnacle of the ambition now. I’d rather Suarez wasn’t sucked up to, he did try to leave us for Arsenal in case you’ve got the memory of a goldfish, but Liverpool fans do tend to romanticise past employees.
That we were at Rafa’s Newcastle next was coincidence, but his team’s vein-busting attempt to derail us in a game that meant little to them shouldn’t come as a shock either.
They have beaten City — how is another matter. It took us three go’s to win last Saturday, but we finally just about limped over the line.
A baffling inability to cure their set-piece weaknesses might have been his variation on a ghostly helping hand, but again we’re straying into sentimental claptrap. Rafa wanted this badly, and although we were nowhere near our best, we still displayed tremendous character.
That’s all it’s about now. Balls and fortune.
Our own weakness, a pig-headed refusal to shut a game down and keep the damn ball, reared its ugly head again. That minute before the first equaliser? Good grief.
Picking Sturridge was an odd one, and maybe we’ve got to manage without Salah now too. Outsiders who thought (prayed?) we’d flop without our Fab Three may soon get their evidence. But whoever’s chosen, they might actually pass to each other — so one hand takes, another gives etc.
This run has been as intense as anything we’ve ever experienced, but there are small moments to savour. The desperation of what seems like the entire world to see us fail has become ineffably preposterous.
A phalanx of fantasists demanded Trent be sent off AND Newcastle’s goal stand. We should be held accountable to different rules than everyone else now, apparently.
The foul before the winner wasn’t a foul either, or so the lengthening litany of excuses would have us believe. Granted it wasn’t one of Ritchie’s worst challenges, but there are men on death row who deserve greater sympathy.
The tsunami of fume can be amusing, though I grimly suspect a massive wave of national relief will replace it soon enough. I suppose the way we manage to get seemingly lucid people into such a mindless froth can be worn as a badge of honour, but I’d rather the players won the actual medals, to be honest.
Not long to wait to find out, anyway.